One of many remakes of Ken Scott’s French-Canadian film Starbuck, Delivery Man is a Vince Vaughn vehicle stuffed with treacly gobbledygook and insipid comedy. It’s an ultimately lukewarm affair, but it should amuse those think Apple commercials are “touching.”
Scott also directs the American remake of his 2011 Canuck movie, so that lends some air of credibility to the proceedings. It doesn’t lend anything fresh to this 2013 outing, however, and that’s the biggest problem. There’s virtually no reason to see Delivery Man, unless you happen to be bored or talked into it by friends whose entertainment choices are questionable.
So we have David Wozniak (Vaughn), who works for his family’s butcher shop. He’s having money troubles. Some years back, he donated what could best be termed “a lot of sperm.” As such, he now has “a lot of children.” In fact, Wozniak has some 533 kids in all and 142 of them have cracked open a lawsuit to find out who he is.
Wozniak and his lawyer friend Brett (Chris Pratt) work to keep the records sealed, but that means that the father-to-too-many also has access to the parties of the lawsuit. That sends Wozniak on a sort of kindness spree, represented by montage. He gets to know some of his many kids, all the while arranging to be dad yet again to his sweetheart’s (Cobie Smulders) kid.
In movies like these, it is required for the protagonist to be a lovable slacker. In the case of Delivery Man, that’s certainly the case. Vaughn’s Wozniak is a perfectly average person thrust into a perfectly insane situation. He plays the part about as well as he can, although he does seem frequently weary and/or blasé.
Much of Deliver Man concerns Wozniak making his way through some of his children’s lives. They are all thin and many of them are quite successful. One of them plays for the New York Knicks. Another is an aspiring actor working in a coffee shop. To balance things out, there’s also a drug addict.
There’s also Viggo (Adam Chanler-Berat), who spouts philosophy and gets to irritate the meat-delivering Wozniak with his rabid veganism. This presents Delivery Man with a golden opportunity to ply its everyman shtick. There’s also a gay son and, naturally, he seems to be quite promiscuous. Cue the eyebrow-raising Vaughn.
Wozniak’s kids are all in the range of 18-22, which means they’re all thin and relatively good-looking. There’s one handicapped person among his offspring, which settles the idea that he has “really good sperm” and provides a chance for some mushy weepiness set to pensive piano music.
Of course, redemption is what these sorts of movies are all about. The chief goal of Delivery Man is to turn Wozniak into an appropriate human being by the time the credits role. His girlfriend is annoyed because he’s lazy. He also grows pot and owes money to loan sharks, which provides a mucky subplot because this movie’s not already crowded enough.
Scott’s original film was based on the true story of a Canadian bull who fathered hundreds of thousands in the 80s and 90s. Watching Delivery Man, it’s hard to get the sense that Starbuck is just as fertile. There is a Bollywood remake and a French one too, but in the case of Scott’s American re-up the “essence” was probably best left in the cup.